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Review of Siobhan McMillan’s Mirrors at Leicester Square Theatre

Mirrors - Credit Thomas Ashton
Mirrors – Credit Thomas Ashton

Written and performed by Siobhan McMillan, this is one of those one-act, one-performer shows that’s all done and dusted in one hour. Mirrors raises a lot of issues and topical subjects, within the framework of a contemporary interpretation of the ‘Snow White’ story, with a focus on the ‘evil queen’, who wishes to kill, quite literally, whoever it is that the ‘magic mirror’, a very British (and thus very apologetic) voiced-over character, has determined is more beautiful than the mirror’s proprietor. She goes by ShyGirl, her YouTube channel name, or otherwise by Shivvers, a persona inhabited under the influence of alcohol. It’s never wholly certain, therefore, whether it’s the vodka talking, or if the views expressed genuinely reflect the other characters that Shivvers encounters. They are never offensive (at least not to me) but are occasionally bizarre.

The production does need to ensure that more people in the audience are able to see clearly. Particularly in the first few scenes, ShyGirl/Shivvers spends a considerable amount of time seated, and although I had a good vantage point sat on a high stool at the back of this studio space, others were disadvantaged. With neither rake, tiered seating nor raised stage, audience members in the middle rows found themselves jostling for a decent sightline. And I still missed an occasional unspoken ‘punchline’ in a production that relies on physical theatre and facial expression just as much as it does on the spoken word. Others were chortling, but as to what they were chortling at, I couldn’t possibly say.

What could be seen, however, was delightful, and some of the staging added an extra dimension to the production – crisps came down from on high, and at one point many bubbles were blown into the air (no, nothing to do with West Ham United) covering a large portion of the stage and audience. I would have thought at least some of it would resonate with a lot of people, especially anyone who has found themselves, for whatever reason, making comparisons between themselves and others.

There are many comparisons that could be made between this rather over-the-top (largely, I think, for the comedy effect) narrative and real life. There may not be murder plots in the workplace (or maybe I’m being too naïve), but there always seems to be somebody engaging in office politics of the devious kind, asserting themselves above others, making themselves look good, or at least less bad, by trying to make others seem comparatively substandard. It’s all about perception – the show is called Mirrors for a reason.

The performance itself is undeniably strong, and isn’t afraid to highlight, as certain lines in the canon of Shakespeare do, the limitations of not being able to portray absolutely everything exactly as it ought to be. The script also deliberately skims over whatever details it deems not to be all that relevant – which, dependent on one’s point of view, is either incredibly helpful in terms of helping the audience direct its attention, or otherwise determinedly lazy.

It may not leave the audience with much to mull over on the Tube home. There may not even be much in the way of sympathy for this tortured character, mostly because it isn’t solicited. So what might be borderline melodrama elsewhere is simply another set of emotions being expressed here, in this boisterous and comical journey. A lively and energetic production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Inept vlogger Shy Girl has been stood up. Again. Humiliated and a little intoxicated, she stares into her bedroom mirror and decides it is time to act.

Shy Girl conjures up Shivvers – a wicked witch, distant relative of Snow White’s stepmother and the most gorgeous person in the universe. When her mirror announces that her beauty has a rival, Shivvers embarks on a mission to track down and destroy whoever dares to be more gorgeous than she.

Both a black comedy and a modern fairytale, Mirrors is a provocative and poetic exploration of narcissism and neurosis. Siobhan McMillan’s remarkable performance takes the audience on a fabulous flight of fancy in search of validation and vodka.

Mirrors by Siobhan McMillan
Running Time 70 minutes
Age Restriction 13+
30th March to 14th April 2018
http://www.leicestersquaretheatre.com/

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